Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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Jane's Blogosphere: blogtrack for Natalie Solent.


( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Testing times. My more old fashioned readers probably think that the driving test is intended to, as it were, test whether a person can drive.

Not in Ontario. Over there it is a privilege which the state grants and the state can take away for reasons that have nothing to do with whether you are a safe driver.

"It is a privilege to have a driver's licence, and one of the corresponding obligations is to be serious about taking your learning as far as possible," Education Minister Gerard Kennedy told a news conference at Queen's Park yesterday before introducing the legislation.
Why Ontario, following the example of nine US states including Alabama and South Carolina, should say that the grant of a driving licence is conditional on staying in school rather than on any of the literally infinite number of other irrelevant criteria is not clear to me. It cannot be an argument of principle. Once the state has declared "seriousness about taking your learning as far as possible" to be a "corresponding obligation" to being allowed to drive there is no reason not to also bring "seriousness about taking your virginity as far as possible" into the test criteria, or "seriousness about taking your ice hockey as far as possible" - or Christianity, fascism or Tantric Yoga, according to the fashion of the moment. The "correspondence" is exactly as good in all of these examples, which is to say nonexistent.

It cannot be hard-headed practicality either. There is no reason to suppose or evidence to show that those seventeen year olds to whom it matters most that they learn to drive are also those who would most benefit (if anyone does) from being forced to stay in school. Would-be rural dropouts are penalised heavily, urban dropouts shrug and take the bus. Or drive without a licence.

I guess it must be desperate flailing about to avoid addressing the failure of state education, then.